Around 10,000 jobs to be lost from UK workforce as high street giants and aviation firms announce cuts

Video report by ITV News Correspondent Rebecca Barry

High street giants and leading aviation firms have announced a slew of job losses, amounting to up to around 10,000 jobs which are set to disappear from the UK workforce.

John Lewis, Airbus, Arcadia, Upper Crust and Harrods are just some of the firms which have announced major restructuring plans in the past day or so to help them survive the coronavirus pandemic.

In total about 9,440 job losses have been earmarked for the axe by the various different companies.

So far:

  • Aerospace company Airbus plans to cut 15,000 jobs, 1,700 of which are in the UK. The firm has sites in Broughton, north Wales and Filton, Bristol

  • Budget airline easyJet announced plans on Tuesday it plans to pull out of Stansted, Southend and Newcastle Airports, possibly putting more than 700 jobs at risk

  • Upper Crust said 5,000 jobs could be cut amid plunging passenger numbers at railway stations and airports

  • Arcadia, which owns fashion retailers Topshop, Dorothy Perkins and others, said around 500 of its 2,500 head office workforce could be cut

  • Luxury department store Harrods said it plans to cut 14 per cent of its 4,800 workforce, which equates to just under 700 jobs being lost

  • Menswear company TM Lewin announced it will close all UK shops and that 600 UK jobs will go

  • Furniture chain Harveys has gone into administration, putting 240 jobs at risk

  • And high street stalwart John Lewis is planning to cut jobs, although the number of stores and jobs affected are yet to be decided, according to a memo obtained by the Evening Standard

The announcement from some of the UK's leading employers will come as a huge blow to families and workers, and comes just a day after Boris Johnson pledged that the country will "build, build, build" its way out of the economic mire caused by Covid-19.

The effects of the coronavirus lockdown has been acutely felt by retailers and aviation firms, which have had virtually no business at all during the lockdown.

ITV News Business and Economics Editor Joel Hills explains the impact of latest job losses in the UK

In the aviation industry, Airbus said commercial aircraft business activity fell by almost 40 per cent in recent months.

The firm said air traffic is not expected to recover to pre-Covid levels before 2023 and potentially as late as 2025 - something which has effected the airline easyJet.

Airbus chief executive Guillaume Faury said: “Airbus is facing the gravest crisis this industry has ever experienced.

Some 15,000 jobs will go worldwide. Credit: PA

“The measures we have taken so far have enabled us to absorb the initial shock of this global pandemic.

Retailers have been among the hardest hit, with the majority of non-essential shops only opening in mid-June.

Arcadia, owned by billionaire Philip Green, blamed coronavirus for the firm’s overhaul.

In a statement, Arcadia said: “Due to the impact of Covid-19 on our business including the closure for over three months of all our stores and head offices, we have today informed staff of the need to restructure our head offices.

The flagship Topshop store on Oxford Street, London Credit: PA

“This restructuring is essential to ensure that we operate as efficiently as possible during these very challenging times.

“Sadly, it is likely to result in a reduction of approximately 500 of our 2,500 head office workforce. We deeply regret the impact this will have on those individuals affected and will do everything we can to support them.”

John Lewis is also among the firms which have been hardest hit. Although there has been no disclosure on where or which jobs could be lost, they said: “The reality is that we have too much store space for the way people want to shop now and we have shared this with our Partners.

“As difficult as it is, it is highly unlikely we will reopen all our John Lewis stores. However no decision has been made and any details would be shared with Partners first by the middle of July.”

Amid the dilemma for firms caused by coronavirus, the business secretary suggested completing Brexit by the end of the year could provide some certainty, despite the risk of a no-deal outcome still very real.

The government recently rejected the opportunity to extend the Brexit transition period, meaning the UK will leave the EU at the end of the year whether a deal is achieved or not.

Asked whether it was worth the risk to businesses, Alok Sharma said "they do not want uncertainty and they have certainty right now, the transition period comes to and end at the end of this year.

Shoppers in line outside John Lewis in Kingston as the store reopens. Credit: PA

"As you know negotiations are continuing this week and the chief negotiators will meet on Friday and I think we’re all very pleased that we are, together with the EU, accelerating these talks and I think with the right approach we will get a deal but at the end of the day this is also about the EU respecting that the UK is a sovereign nation."

Along with bars are restaurants, businesses are starting to reopen but firms are now being forced to look for ways to make savings.

Fresh data from the Office for National Statistics showed gross domestic product (GDP) fell by 6.9 per cent in March, even though the Government-imposed lockdown only came into force with nine days left of the month.

The ONS flash estimate for April found the first full month of lockdown resulted in a drop of output of just over 20 per cent.

Boris Johnson said the best thing to do was help return the economy to health by ensuring people are back in work and the virus is “defeated and under control” during prime minister’s questions on Wednesday.